My Marvellous Guide to caring for heart failure patients
So what is a carer? Do you recognise yourself as a carer? If you are reading this then you are someone who has a significant role in supporting someone with heart failure.
You may live 24 hours or 240 miles away, or share a 24 hour day with someone who has heart failure. To them you are their significant other, someone that they recognise as being instrumental in successfully living with heart failure. This “Marvellous Guide” has been written by fellow carers and patients with heart failure as a result of their day-to-day experiences of caring and living with heart failure, their joys and tribulations, their coping strategies, and their emotional journey. The level of care required by the person you are supporting will vary considerably according to your circumstances and the measure of heart failure they are experiencing, however, this guide contains a variety of information which you may find useful and which relates to your specific needs.
What is heart failure?
The heart consists of muscles that pump blood around the body. With heart failure, the heart is not pumping correctly and is often enlarged because it is having to work extra hard.
Generally there is a reason why the heart is not pumping correctly. The vast majority of the time this is due to the heart muscle being damaged because it is getting a poor blood supply. This can happen after a heart attack, or when someone’s had high blood pressure, which has affected the heart.
Other causes include:
- A virus has affected the efficiency of the heart
- The heart’s rhythm isn’t normal
- Genetically the heart is not structured as well as it should be
- The valves in the heart are damaged
- Excessive alcohol intake
- Recreational drugs
- Some chemotherapy medication
- In rarer cases, there is a form of heart failure associated with pregnancy
Sometimes, we just don’t know what the cause is.